Football / Fan's Eye View: A down town but not out: No 60 - Wivenhoe Town

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MY OLD grandfather used to have a saying: 'As one door closes, another one slams in your face.' At Wivenhoe Town we're thinking of having it engraved on the club crest. The present season has been a traumatic one even by our own standards.

In the first place, performances on the pitch have left the team languishing at the foot of the Diadora Premier Division with just four wins from 26 matches. The early part of the season was particularly depressing, witnessing as it did the recording of all-time club record defeats, both at home and away, with an 8-0 home defeat against Carshalton being followed only three days later by a 9-1 reverse at St Albans.

Then, on 15 December, with the team having boosted morale somewhat by recording only their second away victory of the season, the local paper delivered an unwanted early Christmas present to supporters. The owner, having tried unsuccessfully over the past two and a half years to sell the club, had finally lost patience. Unless a buyer was to come forward within two weeks, the gates of the ground would be locked for the last time on 2 January.

Of course the club had been in danger for some time. In the event, the committee managed to negotiate an agreement whereby they had until the end of the season to come up with the money required to ensure the club's survival.

It is a tall order, but a campaign has begun and we have already received generous contributions from the supporters of St Albans, Marlow and Aylesbury, our most recent opponents. The attitude of these rival supporters has touched and encouraged everyone at the club, although it must be said that, in exchange for the contributions of the last of these three clubs, we did in return find ourselves subjected to a particularly vicious and unprovoked assault on that old Sinatra classic 'I want to be a part of it. AYLES-BREE, AYLES-BREE.'

It is with this in mind that we recall with wry amusement the 'downhearted' supporter from our near-neighbours Colchester who graced this column in December. As a supporter whose club has come out of the other side of a crisis, he should thank his lucky stars. But then some people are never satisfied.

I recall the contingent of St Albans supporters who were vehemently berating both the referee and their own players while leading 8-1 against us, while our hardy band of followers were ensconced behind the home goal giving our boys a bit of encouragement with a raucous chorus of 'We want two; we want two'.

It is all, of course, a matter of perspective. It has taken some time for our supporters to get to the stage where we positively crave a season of inconsistent performances resulting in mid-table mediocrity. 'Twas not ever thus. Until the past few seasons, the story of Wivenhoe Town had been one of uninterrupted success, resulting in a rise from the Essex Senior League to the threshold of the Vauxhall Conference in seven years.

So how are we to cope? When Kipling wrote 'If you can meet with triumph and disaster, and treat those two imposters just the same,' he did so from the vantage point of financial security. Kipling might have been able to face up to the spectre of relegation, but could he have sat stoically watching his club go out of business. I very much doubt it.

Some people may wonder why we carry on at all. In fact, one local paper was so intrigued that it sent a non-sports reporter along to ask this very question. But the answer is not one which a layman could understand. It is rooted deep in the psyche of the football supporter. We do it because we have no choice. Because it is our club, the club we love, often despite ourselves. And, for that reason, we will stay with it come what may.

So are Wivenhoe down? Not yet, we're not. Not yet.

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